Changes to the structure of GAPSA

By
  • Brittany Edwards, GAPSA president, Alfonso Sintjago, GAPSA executive vice president
December 12, 2012

The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly that represents students as their largest student governance body in the University of Minnesota system, plans to make significant changes this year. We would like ongoing feedback in this process from students and the University community.

We have spent the past year and a half learning about what GAPSA is and has been and listening to what students and elected student leaders would like it to become. Nine hundred and forty individuals responded to the student body survey we sent to gain more ideas. We have conducted several formal and informal interviews as well.

Now we are moving into the stage of making decisions about restructuring. We looked into serious discussions of dissolving GAPSA altogether. One thing we learned is that we wouldn’t be able to change the fee that the University currently assesses and would only lose your collective voice in how those funds are spent. That is not what we want for current and future students.

We learned that your leaders, of councils and of the GAPSA assembly, want to gain leadership skills and help you access resources. We learned that our smaller executive board has been more nimble in being able to work directly on policies that affect students and get those moving in the governance paths of the University system. We also believe that continued connection to central administration and the governance structure of the University is essential to the mission of the organization.

We would like to change our assembly and executive board to become a smaller unit, composed of the elected president of the 10 graduate and professional councils or someone they appoint or their council elects. It would also be composed of a president elected through All Campus Elections Commission, a vice president appointed by the board and up to two appointed representatives to the Board of Regents selected through the existing Minnesota Student Association/GAPSA joint-selection process. We would like that group to meet twice a month — once for leadership development and once for policy and business. We would still like an assembly composed of a larger group of student leaders to meet once a semester or year, which would also be a chance to talk with central administration and brainstorm issues of importance. We are also looking at additional opportunities to bridge and include Duluth graduate and professional students in this new structure.

We plan to pull GAPSA under the umbrella of leadership development at the Center for Integrative Leadership. We see them as the most natural bridge for us between student cross-sector collaboration and the University. We also look forward to working with InCommons, the CIL’s project with the Bush Foundation to provide idea exchange to tackle Grand Challenges through organizations and leadership across Minnesota. The goal would be to create opportunities and training for emerging learning technologies such as massive online open courses, open content and video presentations of work via TEDx or RSA Animate. We think that CIL is a natural, supportive match for emerging graduate leaders across disciplines.

GAPSA hopes that these changes will help serve our student body as a better steward of funds, supportive of our mission to support your needs. Changes are not yet set in stone, but we are chiseling away and welcome your thoughts, ideas and involvement now and moving forward. Current students are welcome to email us at gapsa@umn.edu and visit our website or our Facebook page to submit ideas and feedback.

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